Tuesday, April 5, 2011

MPM # 47

TroubleMaker's Dinosaur Cake - made with love by me, his Mom!

I’m having a difficult time recuperating from the Week of TroubleMaker’s birthday. I just can’t seem to get into my regular groove. It probably doesn’t help that spring has finally arrived in Alberta and the only place I want to be is not inside! We’ve been getting to +7 Celsius during the day and after a long and snowy winter; I’m ready to bare my arms to the sun! We were even discussing the possibility of trying to please the Sun Gods a couple of weeks ago as the sun had seemingly taken a permanent vacation from these parts.

In attempt to “Green” up my menu planning, I started looking for a digital solution that would allow me to plan a month at a time but still give me the flexibility to look at it in weekly sections. My general practice was to use this menu plan I custom created two years ago when I returned to work after my maternity leave. This allowed me to plan breakfast, lunches and dinners a week at a time and create a weekly shopping list that I could take with me to the store so that I could refer back to the menu before checking out and ensure I had everything required for the menu. It has worked great for us. When I do my month, I sit down with four or five copies and plan. This also allows me to bulk shop and hit sales and coordinate it all with our pay cheques.

The problem is that it isn’t very Earth friendly. Although I do write in pencil, I recycle the menu each week with the trash (I could erase and reuse but I need something time efficient too). This practice seems logical but I want a greener option that makes planning easier and still provides me with a menu I can stick up in the kitchen for quick and easy reference. Along with the planner is my spreadsheet of meals with needs updating often (as I try to include one to four new recipes monthly). So here is my needs assessment:

Hard copy-ready

I have looked at various ideas – chalk board, white board, magnetic board but I’ve found faults with each. Chalk dust is an issue for me (both mess and allergy wise), white boards invariable get TroubleMaker giddy with excitement and his hands black with felt and I have a very large repertoire of meals – too many to make a magnetic board with magnetic dinners feasible.

I’m not certain that one specific solution is the answer. I did find many great ‘online’ planners that I can download and use but then there is always the paper print out. Additionally, of the digital planners I tried, I felt they were not flexible enough and too difficult to edit or modify – even with my computer programme saaviness. The answer? Well, I haven’t figured that out yet but I did decide to try and custom create something that will work for me (and hopefully others) that incorporates ease of use with flexibility. No two people cook the same, nor do two people plan the same so I think it be a challenge but definitely worth the attempt!

This week, I muddled through while my husband played the 75th round of “Monster ‘gucks” with TroubleMaker. I rushed through and made a grocery list for them to take on their Shopping Adventure today.

And since I’m writing on Tuesday and not Monday (or Sunday), I can review the Monday night “new recipe” from Monday night. First, I continue to try the recipes from Kraft’s Canada as they are simple and easy. I don’t always like the fact they push their products but I do understand that’s the whole point, but my disappointment doesn’t come from that. It is actually because everything is so bland in taste and they seem to forget key points like adding a little sugar and some Worchester sauce to canned tomatoes in order to temper the acidity. So, as always, I made it as the recipe said and then add my own enhancements to make it palatable.

Just so you know I seasoned my chicken breasts with salt, pepper, basil and oregano (both sides). I also added about a ½ tsp of sugar, 1 tbsp of Worchester sauce and a good amount of the same seasonings I used to season the breasts. I ended up added about a ¼ cup of sour cream too in an attempt to control the heat of the red pepper flakes – I used red chili pepper flakes and it made it a bit too spicy for TroubleMaker. Oh, and added a diced red pepper. We also served it over spaghetti because I don’t care for rigatoni. I used fresh Parmesan, Asiago and Romano blend cheese and some marble cheese (as I was out of mozza).

April 5 to 11
Monday: Chicken Pomodoro
Tuesday: Boston Brutes
Wednesday: Bacon Cheeseburger Roll-upsThursday: Omelets
Friday: Nachos
Saturday: Enchilada Casserole
Sunday: Crock pot roast beef

How do you plan your menu - any tips, tricks or ideas? For more great ideas, check out the Org Junkie’s Menu plan Monday!

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